What is a Moka Pot? What is a Bialetti?

A moka pot is a stove-top coffee brewer that produces an espresso style coffee. An engineer named Alfonse Bialetti invented the first moka pot in 1933. The original moka pot design lives on today in the Moka Express made by Bialetti Industries. The iconic brewer is a staple in many households for brewing espresso style coffee.

Original bialetti and a modern bialetti moka pot
Bialetti is far from the only brand of moka pot, though it is definitely the best known. In this article we will go over a few of our favourite moka pots. We will also go into how to brew coffee in your moka pot, and the science behind how a moka pot works.
A moka pot is a perfect addition to any coffee lover’s kitchen. If you want a hot, strong cup of coffee a Bialetti or Moka Pot is perfect for you. Pair it with a Bodum Electric Milk Frother for an easy at-home latte for the best start to your day.

What is a Moka Pot?

Moka Pot is the generic name given to any stove-top espresso style coffee brewer. Bialetti Industries created the original moka pot and set the standard for the design. The Bialetti Moka Express is very iconic with it’s mustachioed man logo. Its displayed in design museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

How Does a Moka Pot Work?

A moka pot works by heating water in a small boiler at the bottom of the pot. The heat pressure builds up, pushing hot water through a stem that reaches down into the hot water. The water goes through a filter that holds the coffee grounds. It then bubbles up through the top of the stem and into the upper serving chamber of the moka pot.
Contrary to popular belief the water in the moka pot does not boil up like in a percolator. The water goes through the grounds with the pressure of the water vapors. Because of the pressure built up, you are able to extract a small but strong espresso-style coffee.

How to Use a Moka Pot

The first thing you need with your moka pot is to fill the boiler with hot water. If you use hot water you reduce the amount of time spent making your coffee.
Next fill the filter basket with loosely packed ground coffee. Do not tamp the grounds down like with an espresso porta-filter. (For information on what type of grind to use check out our Definitive Guide to Coffee Grinders.)
Screw the top and bottom of the moka pot back together and place on your stove top. Keep your moka pot heating evenly throughout the brewing process. Watch to not over-heat the handle, so you don’t burn yourself.
When the coffee chamber is nearly empty, air bubbles will start to mix with the water. Your moka pot will make a gurgling sound when this happens. This is a sign that your coffee has finished brewing. To stop the brewing process take your moka pot off the heat source and run the boiler under cold water.
Note: It’s important to never boil your moka pot dry. Any quality moka pot has a pressure valve on the side to prevent issues. Heating a dry moka pot can be dangerous due to the internal pressure created.
For more information on coffee brewers check out our 13 Types of Coffee Brewer Explained.

Which Moka Pot Is Best For Me?

There’s a lot of choices, sizes and styles of moka pots, just waiting for you to try them. Check out the options below to see what suits you best.

Bialetti Moka Express

You can’t talk about moka pots without talking about the Bialetti. Invented in 1933 by Alfonse Bialetti, this product has remained unchanged to this day. One difference between the original Bialetti Moka Pot and Bialetti Moka Express of today is the company’s mascot. He is called the “l’omino con i baffi” in Italian, or “the mustachioed little man” in English.

Bialetti Moka Mini-Express

The Bialetti Moka Mini-Express moka pot is amazing for people who share espresso. (If those people truly exist?) This small stove-top espresso maker makes two perfectly formed espresso shots. It even comes with these sweet designer cups!

Bialetti Moka Induction

Want to enjoy your fresh made Italian espresso, but have an induction stove-top? The classic Moka Express won’t work on induction stoves because it’s made of aluminum. But no fear, you’re still able to make a great cup. Try the Bialetti Moka Induction pot designed for induction stove tops and you!

Bialetti Venus

The Bialetti Venus is a new take on the classic design of the Bialetti Moka Express. Enjoy your espresso-style coffee from this Bialetti Venus moka pot with its updated look. But wait, there’s a special bonus here, too! This moka pot is also induction stove friendly, as indicated by the icon at the bottom of the box.

Bialetti Moka Crem

If you are looking for a moka pot with a thick, rich crema, look no further than the Bialetti Moka Crem. The crema on an espresso is the layer of foam created by the pressure and the coffee’s oils. A true shot of espresso will have a healthy layer of crema. This moka pot delivers quality crema on a great tasting espresso styled shot.

Bellman Espresso Maker CX-25P

The Bellman Espresso Maker CX-25P is a small brewer but packs a BIG punch. It works exactly like any other moka pot, but with two big differences. The Bellman has a built-in milk steaming wand for steaming your milk. It also has a built in pressure gauge so you can see how much pressure has built up. This brewer uses the built up steam and pressure used in the brewing process also to steam and texture milk. 

With the Bellman, you can even do both coffee and steam milk at the same time. You can make two drinks at once, unlike most stove-top brewers. The Bellman Espresso Maker also works on induction stoves and camp stoves.
Also available: The Bellman Stovetop Steamer. It does not make coffee, so it’s not quite a moka pot. However, it uses the same type of pressure based brewing to make a stand alone steam wand. This is the perfect companion to your classic Bialetti Moka Express.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my moka pot sputtering?

Towards the end of brewing your moka pot will start to sputter and gurgle. This is because steam bubbles are traveling up with your water. It is an sign that the boiler is nearly empty. To avoid over extraction you should remove your moka pot from the heat immediately.

Is a moka pot a percolator?

The moka pot is not a percolator and works differently than one. A percolator sends boiling water upwards through a tube leading to a chamber near the top of the brewer. The water then falls through a filter and sits, brewed at the bottom of the coffee pot.
A moka pot brews coffee by passing water through a brewing chamber of ground coffee as well. Steam builds up the pressure in a moka pot.

Can you use a moka pot twice?

It is not recommended to brew a single batch of coffee grounds more than once. It will be over extracted and taste terrible.

Can moka pots explode?

Moka pots have a pressure release valve on them to prevent it from exploding under pressure. Once the pressure release valve has blown, don’t use the moka pot again as it’s no longer safe for use.

Can moka pots be used on induction stoves?

This depends on the materials used in the moka pot. Some can as they have steel bases. Some more traditional styles are aluminum, which won’t work on your induction stove-top.

Can moka pots make espresso?

Technically a moka pot does not build up enough pressure to make a true shot of espresso with a distinct crema. The moka pot brews an “espresso-style” coffee. It is a very strong, small portion of coffee. Use it in place of espresso in drinks like an Americano or Latte.

Can moka pots go in the dishwasher?

If your moka pot is aluminum, then you must hand wash it. The finish on the aluminum wears off in the dishwasher. Your moka pot will look like a rescue from the bottom of the sea by Alberto Scorfano. On the plus side, if you have already made this mistake your moka pot will still work fine. It just looks different… you could call it ‘rugged’.

Can moka pots produce crema?

The Bialetti Moka Crem can produce a crema-like foam on top of your coffee. It’s not true crema due to insufficient pressure, but is close.

Do moka pots work on electric stoves?

Yes. All moka pots will work on an electric or gas stove, and some will work on an induction stove. They’re also great for camp and RV stoves!

When is a moka pot done brewing?

Your moka pot has finished brewing when it starts to sputter. This indicates that the boiler is almost empty. You want to stop the brewing process by taking your moka pot off the heat and running the boiler under cold water.

When do you take the moka pot off the heat?

At the end of the brewing process your coffee will start to gurgle. This means that your boiler is almost empty. To prevent over extraction in your coffee, remove the moka pot from the heat source and run it under cold water.

When do you clean a moka pot?

After every use you should clean your moka pot by hand washing it with gentle dish soap. If your moka pot is aluminum do not put it in the dishwasher or it will ruin the finish.

What size of moka pot do I need?

Moka pots range in size. The Bialetti Moka Express comes in sizes varying from 1-18 ‘cups’. A 1 cup Bialetti produces 1.5 ounces of coffee.

Which moka pot is made in Italy?

Bialetti pots are the most famous moka pot manufacturers in the world. Bialetti Industries is located in Brescia, Italy. Many Bialetti products are still produced there today.

What grind should I use for a moka pot?

You need a fairly fine grind for your moka pot. We recommend your grind to be about the size of garlic powder. Check out our Definitive Guide to Coffee Grinders for more information.

What is a moka pot made out of?

Most Bialetti Moka Express moka pots are aluminum. There are some Bialetti pots that have a steel base so that they work with induction stoves. The Bellman Stovetop Espresso is 18/8 grade steel.
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